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Artful Living: a Definition

Photograph by AnDrei Bocan

Last week, we discussed how you need Artful Living because you deserve to experience the joy of a creative life.

We remembered that we all at one point enjoyed the fun of creativity, but lost it as we learned to censor ourselves. It is my hope that after reading, you are chomping at the bit to pursue joy by embracing Artful Living. But first, what is this Artful Living thing all about? Allow me to present you with a definition.

Artful living is the imperfect, intentional pursuit of creativity and beauty in every aspect of life.  From enjoying and participating in the arts, to infusing thoughtfulness into everyday tasks, those who live Artfully recognize that life is a canvas, and they wish to mark it well.

photograph by Alirio García Diseño Gráfico

Got that? No? That’s OK. It’s pretty chock full. Let’s dive into each aspect a bit more, shall we? And because we are really setting the foundation for our pursuit, let’s not get overwhelmed. I’m just gonna cover the first three aspects of Artful Living today. Tune in Monday for the final three!

Ready? Grab some tea or coffee and settle in. We’re about to get deep 🙂

Artful Living is not about pursuing perfection.

In fact, as a recovering perfectionist, it is my belief that perfectionism kills creativity and steals joy! I try to avoid it at all costs but it inevitably comes creeping back, like a bad boyfriend. Ditch that sucker! We’re talking about Artful LIVING, remember? Operative word: living. This is a way of living your life and life is messy. It’s a journey, you’re always making it up as you go along, and you’re only human. So stop trying to be perfect and enjoy your life. Think about painting: it takes a lot of mess to make something beautiful, but no one would say it’s not worth it. Embrace the mess!

Artful Living is Intentional.

Before I start talking about Intention, let me just recognize you may be feeling “Intention” burnout. It seems like everyone is talking about living intentionally these days, and though living intentionally is preferable to the alternative (not doing anything with your life and being bored all the time!), it can feel like an awful lot of pressure. You mean I have to be intentional all the time? What if I just want to watch 90’s sitcoms and shovel kettle chips into my mouth?

Girl, do it! You don’t have to be intentional every single moment of every single day. Perhaps some people think you do, but frankly I believe that’s unsustainable. You need to chill out sometimes and you need some “delightful nonsense”. It’s when all you’re doing is chilling out, and it stops being fun and you find yourself becoming restless and unsatisfied that you’re in trouble. Think of living intentionally as a big-picture thing. You decide how you want to live your life, and you set specific goals to work towards that intention. But even Olympic athletes aren’t working out all the time. They need time to rest and refuel and just be a human, and so do you.

Artful Living is about adding creativity and beauty to every aspect of life.

Before I dive in here, remember the first paragraph. Artful living is not about perfection, OK? At this moment there are dishes in the sink and clothes on the drying rack from three days ago! But there are also flowers in a vase in the living room and a hurricane candle holder filled with seasonal decor. You can experience beauty even in the midst of imperfection.

Artful Living is realizing that although our days aren’t perfect, they are still full of potential. They are still a gift. It is worthwhile to make a point of honoring the everyday. That is what adding creativity and beauty to life is: honoring it.

You can honor the everyday in whatever way matters to you.

People have different ideas of what adds beauty to their lives. I feel my senses come alive when I hear Frank Sinatra vibrating through the record player, the aroma of Marinara sauce beckons from the stove, there’s a glass of wine in my hand and flowers on the table.  Whatever makes you look around in contentment at the end of the day, invest in that thing. Even when life gets busy, make it a priority to enjoy what brings you satisfaction. For example, because enjoying tasty food is how I honor the everyday, I try to find a moment for this every day. Even if it is a thrown-together, leftovers kinda night, taking a moment to savor a square of quality chocolate makes me feel like a person again. And allowing myself to feel like a person ultimately nurtures my creativity.

photograph by janko ferlic

I just want to set people free to know that you can still pursue an enjoyable life even though you are busy. I think sometimes we get so scattered that we just try to make everything easy, which, when taken to extremes, can suck the zest right out of life. There are seasons of life, to be sure, where you are in survival mode and need to just get by. The first three months of my son’s life are an absolute blur, and I did not cook for the first month of his life! I didn’t write for the first five months. I just did what I had to do. That was that season. On a more everyday basis, I believe you need to give yourself grace and realize that although things aren’t going to measure up to your expectations, that shouldn’t stop you from trying.

Remember the adage: Do not let perfect be the enemy of good. Accept that life will still be messy, but don’t let that stop you from enjoying beauty and artfulness in the midst of that mess.

We will do deeper into this idea as time goes on. This idea is the heart of Adventures in Artistry, so we couldn’t possibly cover it all in one day! Tune in Monday for a discussion on the final three aspects of Artful Living.

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